As a counselor, there is a lot of irony in that statement because I witness my clients spend a great deal of time working out what went wrong in their childhood. Either they got too much or not enough. It is a rare thing to see a human emerge from childhood into adulthood as Goldilocks; haven gotten “just enough.”
In adulthood we do our best to “be ourselves” and a lot of us end up saying, “I am so much like my mother or father!” Patterns repeat through several generations. Some try to break-patterns while others uphold tradition. Regardless, the endgame results in doing our best to love well.
Loving someone can lend to concern for their well-being. And concern for another person’s well-being is also concern for our own well-being because without them in our life there would be a void. It sucks to see people we love hurt themselves. And “being an adult” does not stop people from doing so.
Adults watch porn. Adults do drugs. Adults eat dessert first. Adults hold grudges. And in some ways adults are no better than kids at living life.
It is mostly trial and error with the long-withstanding dream of safety and security. I’ve watched my friends pick up “bad habits” like smoking, Facebook stalking, sleeping around and obsessing over nothing. Would I like them to make better choices? Sure. And I am hardly the authority on anyone else’s life. So, rather than say, “Do this/don’t do that,” I say, “Do it just enough.”
Adulthood is knowing when to say when. Adulthood takes years of experience.
But, something interesting happens when play gets pushed aside in order to “grow up.” The soul suffers. The kid in us never goes away.
There are individuals that attempt to ignore their inner child and in doing so actually end up acting pretty childish. I call this the “un-integrated child syndrome.” Doing becomes more important than being. Fear pretty much runs the show.
The symptoms of this include any and every addiction—especially a penchant for instant gratification.
Think about people in your life who are reactive, fake, hypocritical, shaming, over-critical or aimless. They are lost boys and girls looking for a home. In other words, if the youth inside of us gets shunned, stunted by circumstance or relegated away, it will rebel.
A child is a sort-of blank slate that gets downloaded with a bunch of information. Not all the information can be understood or sorted out. So, some of it gets stored in the unconscious and in the cells of the body. As we grow and develop, new events can awaken old info.
Ever wonder why your mother can get under your skin so quickly or approval from your father means so much? It is because they “told you so” and you believed it.
In simple terms, somewhere along the line we get fucked up, we fuck-up and then stop giving a fuck.
Once you reach “fuck it” mode all the joys of childhood are once again available to you. Instead of being childish we become child-like.
Each day arrives as an opportunity to discover, explore and imagine. We get clear on what we want and if we don’t want it then it gets thrown away. For some, eating vegetables starts to seem like a great idea.
True adulthood is choosing to be a kid again because at some point it makes more sense to have fun rather than buying into cultural bullshit. It is a long road to come back home to ourselves. Some people never forget who they are. And most of us forget to remember.
And when we do remember to take care of the child inside, it makes for less adult tantrums. The main difference between childhood and adulthood is that adults have a choice in how they live life wherein a child is depended on a care-giver therefore subjugating their choices to things that support survival. Following instruction is how kids survive.
Consciously choosing to live life on one’s own terms is how adults thrive. And most of us fake until we make it.
Simply, you may outgrow the sandbox but you never have to leave the playground.
*In-depth explanations can be found in neuro-psychology, somatic psychology and developmental psychology. If you want to know more about how your upbringing affects your relationships and outcomes in your life—see a trained therapist or relationship mentor. I know a great one!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wiki Commons